Notes from Palm's Investor Conference Today
Palm's CEO Ed Colligan made an number of interesting statements about the future of Palm and the highly anticipated Palm Pre at an investor conference earlier today. You can checkout the archived webcast of the event here or read on for some of our (paraphrased) notes of interest from the Q&A session.
Apple patent battle? "There's no issue with Apple over patents right now. There's been speculation but nothing's been done. The whole issue with patents is elaborate... We have a big patent portfolio in mobile computing built over 15 years... we did that to have a defensive position in the marketplace. It's like two porcupines circling around... you don't attack so you don't get stung. If something does happen there we do have the portfolio to defend ourselves. We're going to drive the product out the door."
On WebOS's developer potential "accessible to more than 10 million web developers"
Does it make sense to license out webOS? "Boy, I've been down that path... people said "lets be the next Microsoft". A lot of bigger competitors came in and took the ideas and a lot of the market share"
On the Pre Launch timing "We are relentlessly focused on getting the platform and the SDK out the door at this point... we have a robust roadmap of products over the next few years"
What bout Centro? gonna try to marry that with webOS? "There will be no more Palm OS based products. We'll transition to webOS and keep WinMob for enterprise."
Will you keep the low-end focus? "We're innovators. We're focused on breakthrough products rather than "let's sell 20 handsets next quarter"
Sprint? "Incredible long-term relationship. There are more Palm users on Sprint than any other network. Number of fantastic attributes, outstanding data network... we've been working very hard to line up our marketing efforts for awhile now. Focused on making sure everyone is trained on the product in the stores. They'll put in a significant effort with regards to marketing and pricing." (subsidies?)
Pricing? Margins? "Long-term margin goal of getting back to the mid-30s. The maturing Centro has driven our margins down. Sprint Treo Pro will help some when it launches. That's why we raised additional resources (elevation cash injection). We hope Pre will help us get out margins back up"
Plans beyond Sprint? Very cagey response, not much detail.... No new carrier partners till 2010??!! say it ain't so, Eddie!
Poaching other companies talent? They've brought on a Nokia supply-chain guy (missed his name) in addition to all the Apple people. "Augmenting our sales team" They're using longtime palm supply chain partners as well as some of Rubinstein's.
Audience participation: who are the key manufacturing partners? "Confidential. They're the best of the best. We're not concerned about their ability to ramp. This is a complex design and develop and we really want to nail the forecasting, especially in this economic climate. We need to predict and manage the supply chain effectively."
Does it concern you that HTC might compete with you as well as manufacturing your stuff? No.
On Elevation: "Mid-life venture capital. They have a long-term view... I knew we were going through a big transition and it would take 18 months at least to get it out the door. They're very supportive. Fred Anderson is an asset 'cause he's been through that at Apple."
Will that 100 mil be enough to get you through? "We did a lot of planning to make sure it would be enough. We clearly have a very difficult economic environment that has put pressure on our revenue... Centro is maturing and we're trying to get Treo Pro out the door."
Third-party developers? "There's tens of thousands of Palm OS developers, huge community we've worked with. There are certain apps that are killer apps that drive sales... ePocrates for instance. We're doing what we can to get these guys to come over. The second thing is the whole web app community that weren't targeted by Palm OS, hence the web-based dev environment. Number of apps out day one, we expect it will grow very rapidly."